AUSTIN, WILBERT JOHN (2 Nov. 1876-4 Dec. 1940), a prominent engineer and builder, was one of five children, born in Cleveland to Samuel and Sarah Gynn Austin. After receiving a B. S. degree in engineering from Case Institute of Applied Science in 1899, he spent a year of travel and graduate work before joining with his father to form the Samuel J. Austin & Son Co. in 1901. Wilbert persuaded his father to combine construction with his own design and engineering abilities in order to offer clients a full range of service for their entire projects. He was credited with originating the standard steel-fram factory building, forerunner of the prefabricated steel building. An aviation enthusiast, Austin developed a canopy door for airplane hangars which led to the company's leadership in the design and construction of airports and other air transport facilities. He succeeded his father as president of the AUSTIN CO. in 1924 and initiated an intensified program of engineering research at that time. Austin also was president of Advance Properties Co. and was a member of the first Board of Directors for the NATIONAL AIR RACES in 1929.
Austin married Ida Stewart 13 Sept. 1903, and they had 3 children Allan Stewart, Donald Gynn, and Margaret Louise (Mrs. Clarence Williams). He died in a commercial airline crash in Chicago and was buried in Cleveland's LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.
Shirk, Charles A. The Austin Company: A Century of Results, WRHS.
Last Modified: 11 Jul 1997 01:56:59 PM
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